Traditional recipes

Eggplant, Tomato, and Scamorza Lasagnetta

Eggplant, Tomato, and Scamorza Lasagnetta

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the eggplant and tomato on separate baking sheets, brush with the garlic-infused oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste, and the thyme.

Bake the eggplant until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Then, reduce the oven temperature to 210 degrees (or the lowest setting) and bake the tomatoes until slightly dried, about 2 hours. Remove from the oven, set aside, and increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Lightly flour the work surface and roll out into 1/16-inch-thick sheets and use a mold to cut sixteen 4-inch rounds of dough. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Season with salt, to taste. Set up an ice water bath.

Quickly blanch the rounds of dough, for about 10 seconds each, then cool in the ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Place them on a paper towel to dry. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Once dry, place 4 rounds on the baking sheet. Begin layering the tomato, eggplant, a spoonful of tomato sauce, grated scamorza cheese, julienned basil, a pinch of dried oregano, and a teaspoon of béchamel sauce.

Repeat 3 times, starting with another layer of dough, then the tomato, etc., to make a total of 4 layers on each lasagnetta, topping the final round of dough with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. (You will have 4 lasagnetta total.) Bake for approximately 15 minutes.

Divide and spoon the sauce evenly on the center of 4 plates. Remove the lasagnetta from the oven, and using a spatula, move each lasagnetta to the center of the plate. Serve immediately while hot.


Recipe Summary

  • 4 eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 tablespoon salt, or as needed
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or as needed
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 (32 ounce) jar prepared marinara sauce
  • 1 (16 ounce) package mozzarella cheese, sliced

Place eggplant slices in a large bowl in layers, sprinkling each layer with salt. Let stand for 30 minutes to drain. Rinse and dry on paper towels.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Whisk eggs with water and flour until smooth. Dip eggplant slices in batter and fry in the hot oil until golden brown, working in batches of 2 to 3 slices at a time.

Mix seasoned bread crumbs with Parmesan cheese in a bowl. Place 1/4 of the eggplant slices into a slow cooker and top with 1/4 of the crumbs, 1/4 of the marinara sauce, and 1/4 of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers three more times.

Cover and cook on Low until tender and flavors have blended, 4 to 5 hours.


Involtini di Melanzane - Eggplant Involtini

There is magic in eggplant. For centuries, Italians and other Mediterranean cultures have used this vegetable as an economical substitute for meat. Dipped in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs and pan-fried, sliced eggplant does a great job of mimicking veal or chicken cutlets. Layer it in a baking dish with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce and you have one of the world’s favorite comfort foods: eggplant Parmesan.

But now it’s summer, so something lighter is in order, and that means involtini di melanzane, or eggplant involtini

tender eggplant slices rolled up around cheese and baked in fresh tomato sauce. I learned to make this apptizing dish from my friend Carla Tomasi, who teaches cooking classes at Latteria Studio, in Rome. Many recipes for eggplant involtini call for flouring and frying the slices before stuffing them. Carla’s version uses eggplant that has been brushed with olive oil and baked. The result is light, silky slices that are just right for filling with tangy cheese. Be sure to use a good melty cheese, like scamorza or slightly dried mozzarella. Semi-aged pecorino and Asiago are also good choices.

These involtini are versatile and can be served as an appetizer, a side dish, or a vegetarian main course. Serve them hot out of the oven, or let stand until they are just warm.

Yield: 4 main course or 8 appetizer servings

Remove the tops and bottoms from the eggplants. Cut them lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick (1/2 cm) slices, discarding the two end slices. You should have 8 slices from each eggplant for a total of 16 slices.

Salt the eggplant slices on both sides and layer them on a paper towel-lined rimmed baking sheet. Let them sit for 1 hour, then pat them dry.

Heat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Brush the eggplant slices on both sides with olive oil and arrange them in a single on the baking sheets, 8 per sheet. Bake for 10 minutes turn the slices over and bake for 10 minutes more, until they are tender and lightly browned. (You can bake them one sheet at a time, or both sheets at once, on racks placed in the top and center of the oven.) Let the slices cool while you prepare the filling. Reduce the oven heat to 375°F (190°C).

Cut the scamorza or mozzarella (if using) into small cubes. Shred the pecorino or Asiago on the large holes of a box grater. Combine the cheeses in a bowl and stir in the Parmigiano.

Lightly coat an 8-inch by 11-inch (20 cm by 28 cm) rectangular baking dish with olive oil. Spoon about 1/3 cup of tomato sauce into the bottom of the dish. Place a spoonful of the cheese filling on the wide end of one of the eggplant slices. Roll it up and set it in the baking dish, seam side down. Stuff and roll up the remaining eggplant slices and place them in the dish, taking care to reserve about 1/2 cup of the filling. The involtini should fit snugly in the dish. Spoon the remaining tomato sauce on top of the involtini and top with the remaining cheese.

Bake the involtini, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the filling is oozy and the top is browned in spots. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving, and serve hot or warm.



The skin of eggplant can be quite tough, so in a preparation like this I like to peel the eggplant. With a vegetable peeler that is quite easy to do.


Dice the eggplant (into about 2 cm or 3/4 inch dice) and put in a colander. Season liberally with salt, shake a few times, season with more salt, and shake again.


Put a plate on top of the eggplant and something heavy on top of that, and wait for about an hour until the eggplant has released a lot of its juices. This makes the eggplant easier to cook and it will lose some of its bitter flavor. You could also skip this step altogether.


Meanwhile, dice the scamorza and cut the cherry tomatoes in halves (check out this post for a trick to do that very quickly).

Preheat the oven to 225ºC/440ºF (fan forced).


Once the eggplant has released its juices, pat the diced eggplant dry with paper towels. There is no need to rinse it first (if you didn’t go overboard with the salt).


Put the eggplant in a bowl and add extra virgin olive oil.


Toss to cover the eggplant with the oil.


Arrange the eggplant on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.


Roast the eggplant for about 15 minutes at 225ºC/440ºF (fan forced).


Take the baking sheet out of the oven and turn the eggplant so both sides can cook evenly.


Arrange the halved cherry tomatoes, cut side up, on the same baking sheet.


Return the baking sheet to the oven and roast at 225ºC/440ºF (fan forced) for another 10-15 minutes or until the eggplant starts to brown and the tomatoes start to wrinkle.


Meanwhile, cook the penne in boiling salted water according to package instructions.


Drain the penne when they are still al dente.


Toss the penne with some extra virgin olive oil so they won’t stick together.


Since I was cooking for two, I decided to bake the two portions on individual plates. You could also bake everything in a single large oven proof dish.

Put the oiled pasta in the baking dish (or arrange it on oven proof plates).


Once the tomatoes and eggplant are done roasting, add them to the pasta as well.


Now bake the pasta in the oven for about 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted and starts to bubble.


Sprinkle with basil chiffonade and serve at once.


List of Ingredients

  • 1 of eggplant, long and thin
  • 8 of scamorza slices
  • 8 of plum tomato slices
  • large egg
  • all-purpose flour
  • bread crumbs
  • oil for frying
  • salt

Method

Cut the eggplant into 16 slices about 1/2" thick. Season with salt and let sit in a colander until it has released excess liquid, 30-45 minutes.

Place a slice of scamorza and of plum tomato in between 2 eggplant slices ensure they are compact. Place flour, beaten egg, and breadcrumbs in separate shallow bowls. Working one at a time, coat the eggplant towers in flour, then dip in egg and finally in breadcrumbs shaking off excess.

Heat oil in a large frying pan to 350°F. Add the croquettes and fry for 2-3 minutes, turning, until evenly golden. Line a baking tray with paper towels and drain the croquettes on it lightly season with salt if necessary (the eggplant is already salty) and serve immediately.


What Is a Lasagnette? (with pictures)

Lasagnette is a thinner variant of the classic Italian noodle, lasagna. Various forms of dishes using this pasta differ, but the common ingredient is a thin, flat noodle, often with the same ribbed or curved edges of the wider lasagna noodle. In many parts of the world where Italian cooking has become popular, more people know about lasagna than the relatively obscure lasagnette.

Modern recipes using the thinner pasta often come in two different forms. In one version, the cook is simply using the thinner pasta to create a thinner dish in the traditional lasagna style, that is, with the noodles lying on top of one another, sandwiching various ingredients in between. In a different style of lasagnette, the thin noodles are tossed on the plate with other elements.

Either style of lasagnette dish comes with many of the classic Italian tastes that fans of this traditional cuisine have come to expect. Common flavorings include adding items like basil, pesto, garlic, or tomato added to olive oil, a staple in Italian cooking. Sea salt and pepper are also frequently used, and grated parmesan, an overall staple, puts in the occasional appearance in these kinds of dishes.

In terms of other main elements, uses of the thinner pasta noodle that mimic the larger lasagna preparation tend to have the same types of fillings made popular in the wider noodle dish. These include ricotta cheese, other cheeses like mozzarella, and tomato sauce. In addition, some recipes include a meat sauce, usually ground beef and tomato sauce. Other variants will be vegetarian, where vegetables like spinach substitute for the meat element.

The tossed lasagnette dishes can have some other more exotic elements on the plate. Some of these include rich vegetable elements like pumpkin, squash, or eggplant. Chevre, or goat cheese, and another flavorful cheeses may also be included. Herbs such as parsley and oregano may come as a garnish or as a blended ingredient.

In some forms of modern cuisine, Italian cooking provides a common foundation, meaning that items like lasagnette may be more likely to get discovered in a particular culinary community. This thinner version of the lasagna pasta has been featured in the cookbooks of famous modern chefs who have competed in some of the most visible television cooking competitions in recent history. This and other prominent uses of these Italian dishes may drive its continued popularity, along with a broader understanding of how these noodles, and their respective uses, differ.


Baked Ziti with Eggplant and Smoked Scamorza

Pasta al forno, literally “pasta from the oven,” is a versatile dish that works well with many different cheeses and vegetables, making this a great meatless Monday to make from odds and ends in your refrigerator. Garnish with additional torn basil leaves for an extra-aromatic finish.

Baked Ziti with Eggplant and Smoked Scamorza

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. (500 g) eggplant, peeled (optional) and cubed
  • 8 oz. (250 g) shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps thinly sliced
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed but left whole
  • 5 cups (35 oz./1.1 kg) canned diced tomatoes
  • 5 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • 1 lb. (500 g) dried ziti, penne or other short, sturdy pasta
  • 2 cups (8 oz./250 g) shredded smoked scamorza cheese
  • 1 cup (4 oz./125 g) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1. In a large fry pan over medium heat, warm 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) of the olive oil. Add the eggplant and mushrooms and stir to coat with the oil. Sprinkle in 3/4 tsp. salt and a generous grinding of pepper. Sauté until the vegetables are tender and browned in spots, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover to keep warm and set aside.

2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine 3 Tbs. of the remaining olive oil and the garlic and warm until the garlic begins to sizzle, about 2 minutes. Press the garlic with the back of a wooden spoon to release its aroma. Do not let it brown or it will become bitter. Slowly pour the tomatoes into the pan. Be careful, because the oil and juice will spatter. Stir in 3/4 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until nicely thickened, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil. Cover the sauce to keep warm and set aside.

3. While the vegetables and tomato sauce are cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the ziti and cook until al dente, about 11 minutes or according to the package directions. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) of the cooking water, then return to the pot. Add the eggplant and mushrooms, about two-thirds of the sauce and the scamorza and toss gently but thoroughly. Add a splash or two of the pasta-cooking water to loosen the sauce, if needed.

4. Preheat an oven to 400°F (200°C). Coat a large baking dish with the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil.

5. Spoon the dressed pasta into the dish. Top with the remaining sauce and the Parmigiano. Bake, uncovered, until bubbly and browned on top, about 30 minutes. Serve hot. Serves 8.

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Find more recipes like this one in our enticing collection of authentic dishes made modern, Rustic Italian , by Domenica Marchetti.


How to Make Great Eggplant Parmigiana

During our years running Tours with Espressino Travel we’ve lost track of how many time guests have told us they don’t like eggplant, only to witness their minds change once they try the Parmigiana di Melanzane of the Salento, the southernmost tip of Puglia’s peninsula.

Even though Parmigiana is popular across the Italian south, there’s something particularly magical about the Cucina Salentina version of the dish that goes beyond the sun-kissed, flavor-packed locally grown eggplants. With every bite you can taste hundreds of years of history.

As one of Italy’s poorest regions, the people of the Salento had to constantly invent creative techniques for adding texture and flavor to dishes without costly ingredients. Meat and eggs were luxuries saved for special occasions, or sold and traded to support families. In the agricultural deep south of Italy, the Salentini were surrounded by an abundance of fresh produce that became the hero of their cuisine, as vegetables were re-imagined into creative, hearty and intensely flavorful dishes. That’s the essence of eggplant parmigiana: the family-friendly one-tray meal perfect for both vegetarians and carnivores alike.

Make the Sauce:
In a pan, heat two tablespoons of olive oil and the garlic and/or onion, cut side down. Once fragrant, add tomato passata (see Note 2) and some fresh basil leaves and leave to cook while you prepare the rest of the dish. You don’t want the sauce to be too reduced, so keep a close eye on it. If it is getting too thick, reduce the heat and cover.

Prepare the Eggplants:
Wash the eggplants, cut off the ends and slice them into 1cm-thick discs. If using older eggplants, lightly salt and let stand for a few hours to remove any bitterness and drain them on paper towels. Heat a pan with enough oil to deep fry the eggplants. Season the eggs with salt and pepper and beat. Dredge the eggplant slices, first in flour and then in the beaten eggs. Deep-fry until golden brown.

Assemble and bake the Parmigiana:
Preheat oven to 180°C/355°F. In a baking dish pour some tomato sauce on the bottom and place the first layer of fried eggplants, overlapping them slightly. Spread over chopped mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano, fresh basil, and more tomato sauce. Cover with another layer of eggplants and continue layering the same order until you finish your ingredients, ending with eggplants, a generous amount of tomato sauce and Parmigiano. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until you see a crust on the top. Delicious served hot, warm or even at room temperature. Better still the day after!

1. Typically in the Salento, onion and garlic are not used together as there is a belief that their strong flavors clash and mask the natural flavors of the food. They are also considered to be indigestible together. However, both can be used together if preferred (just don’t tell the Salentini).

2. Fresh tomato passata (also called strained tomatoes) is preferable, but you can also use a good brand of prepared passata, or crush whole peeled tomatoes with your hands and add to the sauce. Always try to buy good 100% Italian tomatoes.

Recipe provided and sponsored by Gianna Greco of Cooking Experience Lecce, official cooking school of Espressino Travel’s Puglia Tours, and an expert on the food and wine of the Salento (as seen on TV in Italy and internationally).


Baked Ziti with Eggplant and Smoked Scamorza

Pasta al forno, literally “pasta from the oven,” is a versatile dish that works well with many different cheeses and vegetables, making this a great meatless Monday to make from odds and ends in your refrigerator. Garnish with additional torn basil leaves for an extra-aromatic finish.

Baked Ziti with Eggplant and Smoked Scamorza

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. (500 g) eggplant, peeled (optional) and cubed
  • 8 oz. (250 g) shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps thinly sliced
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed but left whole
  • 5 cups (35 oz./1.1 kg) canned diced tomatoes
  • 5 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • 1 lb. (500 g) dried ziti, penne or other short, sturdy pasta
  • 2 cups (8 oz./250 g) shredded smoked scamorza cheese
  • 1 cup (4 oz./125 g) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1. In a large fry pan over medium heat, warm 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) of the olive oil. Add the eggplant and mushrooms and stir to coat with the oil. Sprinkle in 3/4 tsp. salt and a generous grinding of pepper. Sauté until the vegetables are tender and browned in spots, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover to keep warm and set aside.

2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine 3 Tbs. of the remaining olive oil and the garlic and warm until the garlic begins to sizzle, about 2 minutes. Press the garlic with the back of a wooden spoon to release its aroma. Do not let it brown or it will become bitter. Slowly pour the tomatoes into the pan. Be careful, because the oil and juice will spatter. Stir in 3/4 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until nicely thickened, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil. Cover the sauce to keep warm and set aside.

3. While the vegetables and tomato sauce are cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the ziti and cook until al dente, about 11 minutes or according to the package directions. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) of the cooking water, then return to the pot. Add the eggplant and mushrooms, about two-thirds of the sauce and the scamorza and toss gently but thoroughly. Add a splash or two of the pasta-cooking water to loosen the sauce, if needed.

4. Preheat an oven to 400°F (200°C). Coat a large baking dish with the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil.

5. Spoon the dressed pasta into the dish. Top with the remaining sauce and the Parmigiano. Bake, uncovered, until bubbly and browned on top, about 30 minutes. Serve hot. Serves 8.

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Find more recipes like this one in our enticing collection of authentic dishes made modern, Rustic Italian , by Domenica Marchetti.


Make This Layered Eggplant Parmigiana Recipe

Alimentari” is Italian for “good food and camaraderie,” so what better name for Melbourne, Australia’s vibrant multicultural eatery? Join Alimentari founders Linda and Paul Jones on a story-packed discovery of Italian, Middle Eastern and modern European cuisine.

This is a very popular vegetarian take on lasagne. Using really fresh ingredients makes a huge difference to the quality of this dish. Do use scamorza if you can — it’s a little more expensive than fior di latte, but it’s well worth it for the delicious smoky flavor.

Make This Layered Eggplant Parmigiana Recipe

  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Level of Difficulty: Easy
  • Serving Size: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggplants, cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  • 8 cups tomato sauce
  • 14 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3 balls (about 13 ounces) smoked scamorza or fior di latte (fresh mozzarella), sliced
  • 1 bunch basil, leaves picked
  • 4 tomatoes, sliced

Directions

For the parmigiana

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line two large trays with baking paper.

Spread the eggplant onto the trays, season well and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes, turning once, until lightly browned. Set aside.

Reduce the oven temperature to 345°F.

Heat the sauce in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.

Spread a layer of sugo over the bottom of a 14 x 8-inch baking dish. Top with a layer of eggplant slices, sprinkle with Parmesan and then a layer of scamorza or fior di latte. Repeat, scattering the second layer with some basil leaves. You should get three layers. When you get to the top layer, arrange the eggplant, tomato, fior de latte and basil in overlapping rows.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.